Travel and Venice
11.03.2013 - 12.03.2013
First thing's first- "If you can't go first class, don't go at all." Thanks, Under The Tuscan Sun for summing my trip there nicely. Kidding, but not really - economy was rough. Most international flights leave the US heading east at night, so getting as much sleep as possible is typically advised. Fortunately for me, I was able to get about 1 hour of shuteye during the 7 hour flight. Transferring in Frankfurt, Germany I was certainly a zombie. Funny enough, it started snowing there as soon as we landed around 5:30am local time and they almost started canceling flights because I'm not sure they could handle it. After switching our gate about 3 times and much delay, we finally hopped on our flight...only to sit on the runway while the crew hurried to de-ice the plane. So glad I was knocked out during that. Flying Lufthansa was quite nice though - providing dinner and breakfast meals for the long trip, a pillow, blanket (you'll be getting that back later), a headset, movies, and wine free of charge!
After the short flight to Venice, we arrive and quickly exist the terminal without a single passport check because, well, the Italians just don't care. Us 4 women (including my mother and 2 professors from Lasell College) are picked up by a driver from the hotel we are staying at out in the farm country of Venice. Luckily, they have a train station right outside their hotel from which we can hop on the train to take us right into the city.
As we eventually start our second day, we take a 20 min train ride into Venice proper. Given a map and some suggestions by the hotel concierge, we decide to go on our own walking tour of Venice. It's best advised to "get lost" in this city on the water because you will always end up finding familiar landmarks (and it's not a huge city to get terribly lost in). Once we crossed the initial bridge to go to the body of land surrounded by the Grand Canal, I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the old-world charm of the Italian villas multiple floors high and right on the water. Standing on one of the main bridges with the sun breaking through the overcast clouds, and the water taxis and other boats coming from underneath the bridge was spectacular! Each building was painted a different color but very aged and displayed all different types of window shutters; it was certainly something you saw in a movie. We spent much of the afternoon traveling through this island's narrow streets and alleyways surrounded by many tall, unique housing and hotels. We wanted to get to the square of San Rocco which held a huge chiesa and scuola grande in his name. But according to the map, we kept ending up in other campos completely surrounding that one and not getting to that one directly. I didn't even care because we would always cross little pontes over parts of the canal that made all of the "getting lost" worthwhile and fun. We came across a ton of embedded little shops along the way, carrying all sorts of little gifts including blown glass jewelry and stemware from the nearby island of Murano. I ended up buying myself a beautiful square ring of gold and peach colors with a little red flower, which was authentically made in Murano.
After finally seeking out San Rocco, we decided it was time to keep heading through the island across the infamous Ponte di Rialto and going to Piazza San Marco. This is a notorious tourist attraction - a huge square right on the Basin of San Marco contains one of the largest towers in Venice, along with intricately detailed mosaics on the arches of the church. A lot of construction was going on, but it still looked incredible. One of my favorites was an interesting clock tower within the square that has 24 roman numerals circled and somehow telling the time even though the numerical order does not start with 1. But above that tower was the current time in roman numerals and at the top of each other, a bell would be struck 5 times by an ancient marble statue that was somehow mobile. Regardless, it was incredible to see while cranking your neck all the way back just to see!
Building up an appetite we decided to check out the local food scenery - finally! Passing on the fancy and expensive cafes and restaurants right in the square, we went a few streets back to a small bar and tried some local pasta. So fresh and delicioso. After dinner, we went back to San Marco square to see the Sigh Bridge which connected the Doge's palace where prisoners were sentenced, to the dungeon for their punishment. This bridge was very small high above the water and completely enclosed. We could only see it standing from another bridge that faced it. The windows of the dungeon are still covered in extremely strong, yet rusted bars...gave me the creeps!
Overall, it was a great first day and I was very happy the sun decided to come out afterall which made for some excellent pictures and happier campers. I certainly tried dabbling in some Italian but I need to work on it. It only makes it more difficult to do so when the women in my group don't give any effort to adapt to the language, AND most people here already speak English as well. I was hoping to hear and possibly speak more of this beautiful language. Hopefully in the days to come with the larger group arriving in Rome.
PS. we ended the day in true Italian fashion - with cappuccinos and gelato! And proceeded to get lost further while trying to make our way back to the train station.
PSS. Happy 22nd Birthday Darius! Oh how the time is flying...wow
After many efforts, this was the only image I could download here. This is the school of San Rocco